Russia and the United States have agreed to encourage the Syrian government and the Western-backed armed opposition to find a political solution to the country’s two-year crisis. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement at a joint news conference after holding talks in Moscow on Tuesday that also involved President Vladimir Putin. Lavrov said that the two sides have agreed to hold an international peace conference on Syria to follow-up on the Geneva communiqué of June 2012. He stated that Moscow and Washington will work with other states to solve the crisis in Syria. The US secretary of state said that the alternative to a negotiated solution is that there would be more bloodshed in Syria. "The alternative is that Syria heads closer to an abyss, if not over the abyss and into chaos," Kerry stated. "The alternative is that the humanitarian crisis will grow. The alternative is that there may be even a break up of Syria," he
added. The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence. The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals. In an interview recently broadcast on Turkish television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that if the militants take power in Syria, they could destabilize the entire Middle East region for decades. “If the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country, or if the terrorist forces take control, the situation will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries and create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he added.